Net zero road map for manufacturing industry report released

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the Envision battery manufacturing facility at the Nissan production plant in Sunderland, north east England on July 1, 2021. - Japanese auto giant Nissan today announced plans to build the UK's first car-battery
UK prime minister Boris Johnson visits the Envision battery manufacturing facility at the Nissan production plant in Sunderland, July 2021. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/POOL/AFP via Getty

Manufacturer's organisation Make UK released the first road map to net zero for the manufacturing industry on Monday.

The vast majority (98%) of manufacturers are aware of the government’s net zero by 2050 target and 92% said this will be achievable in their business if they receive the right support from the government, according to the report from Make UK in association with Sage.

The manufacturing sector is one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gas in the UK, accounting for 21% of emissions.

Green skills will be the greatest game changer on the path to achieving sustainable manufacturing, the report said, as a third of companies surveyed are still experiencing a skills gap.

According to Make UK, the average skill level of net-zero jobs is 26% higher than the current average occupational skill level in the UK.

Almost three quarters (72%) of manufacturers ranked innovation skills as the most crucial additional skillset to meet green targets as "the adoption and diffusion of new technologies, which are constantly changing, can support manufacturers to explore different ways of reaching their own net-zero targets," the report said.

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Effective leadership and management skills are also key to the green transition, with almost six in 10 manufacturers saying they require management skills in order to be more sustainable.

Some 61% of manufacturers are looking to change their skills strategy to access and develop these skills.

More than three quarters (77%) of businesses are planning to set their own net-zero targets within the next two years, the report found.

Make UK is calling on the government to transform the local education and training market to meet manufacturers' green skills needs, with government, education, training providers and manufacturers working together to address the green skills gap.

As part of its road map to net zero, Make UK is recommending that the government should implement a green skills tax credit to encourage manufacturers to prioritise the acquisition of green skills, rapidly increase the provision of training at higher levels to meet the green skills demand, and introduce a "Help to Grow Green" program for managers and leaders to support training in the latest sustainable manufacturing procedures.

Analysis by the government's Green Jobs Taskforce estimates that more than 1.2 million jobs could be created within the manufacturing and construction sectors in a green economy by 2050, the report said.

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Make UK's road map to net zero encourages manufacturers to commit to understanding and equipping their business with the green skills needed to complete the transition to a digital and green future, and "recognise that a green future goes hand in hand with a digital future".

Manufacturers should also identify the areas of their business in which green skills are needed, now and in the future, and engage and collaborate with the education system and training market to meet the green skills required.

"Government needs to prioritise educational resources to make sure there is an increased provision of training at the higher skill levels of degree standard or above level 5 to make sure industry has the skills they need to take advantage of all the opportunities in the digital and green economy," said Stephen Phipson, chief executive of Make UK.

"Embracing new technology is essential to ensuring the future of Britain’s manufacturing sector. Technology is rapidly accelerating for manufacturers and this pace is likely to grow. The use of data analytics, robots, multi-purpose production lines and intelligent machines will change the landscape."

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